Warwick, 1619: Shipwreck Excavation

Warwick lies, torn asunder, on the floor of Castle Harbour. As we slowly uncover the ship’s buried skeleton, we are continuously astounded by the quality of her construction. She was built from densely packed, massive oak timbers. Between three layers of outer planking, frames, and inner planking (confusingly referred to as ceiling), Warwick’s hull would have been solid wood, two feet thick in places. It is incredible to contemplate the forces required to rip her apart, and partly explains why a large section of her starboard side is still intact and well preserved.

Seventeenth Century English vessels were held together with heavy wooden pegs called treenails (pronounced truhn-el, as in trunnel). You can see them sticking up out of the frames where the planking has come away. Where only outer planking remains, you determine the position of frames by looking for rows of treenails.

Treenails are powerful, rust…

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Categories: Archaeology

Author:Doug Inglis: divingarchaeology.com

I study the archaeology of seaborne exploration and contact. I am passionate about public history and outreach, and write about nautical archaeology at http://divingarchaeology.com

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